Oh, To Be in Scotland!
Bill and Kerry O'Neill
Bainbridge Island, Washington
The first ARS meeting outside North America, and we won't be there. Fortunately, we have visited Scotland, but we'll miss sharing it with you. Maybe some of our experiences will help your planning. We flew to Edinburgh (from Ireland) but didn't pick up our rental car until we were ready to leave. From our B&B uphill of Waverly Station, we strolled down each morning into the heart of Edinburgh, traveled all around by bus or on foot, and returned by taxi in the wee hours. Among Edinburgh's many attractions, we most enjoyed the alpine section of the Royal Botanic Garden and Holyroodhouse Palace.
We obtained our car early on a Saturday to minimize traffic, and headed north to Branklyn, a fascinating two-acre garden in Perth, and to Peter Cox's garden nearby. That same day, we drove through the Highlands to Loch Ness. Overall it was less than 250 miles, but there's a lot to see, and few roads have more than two lanes. It would be a tiring first day of driving on the left-hand side. (We'd already spent a month on British roads.)
Inchnacardoch Lodge at Fort Augustus provided a restful view of Loch Ness, complete with shaggy Highland cattle grazing in the foreground. A magnificent sunrise invited us to circumnavigate the loch in what proved to be the best weather of the next few days. On our rainy drive to Oban we glimpsed the snow clad heights of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain. We enjoyed Arduaine and other gardens near Oban despite the weather; then went on by car ferries to the island gardens of Achamore and Brodick Castle. Our little tour of Scotland neared its end at Castle Kennedy and other gardens near Stranraer.
We had a great time, but expect you will see more and look forward to illustrated recollections upon your return.